Thinking Tools

Edward de Bono invented thinking tools. A thinking tool is a three letter word carefully chosen to explore a particular aspect of a person’s thinking. Thinking tools are a great way to explore a subject before allowing our judgment to take over.

Our usual process of thinking is Observation — Judgment. With thinking tools, we change it to Observation — Exploration — Judgment.

Next time you need to do some thinking on a problem, trying to find alternatives or setting priorities, do not jump to the conclusion immediately. Spend few minutes to do PMI, APC or FIP (or any other thinking tool) and then move on. Thinking tools can be used by an individual or a group.

List of Thinking Tools

  • AGO – Aims, Goals and Objectives
  • CAF – Consider All Factors
  • EBS – Examine Both Sides
  • OPV – Other People’s Views
  • APC – Alternatives, Possibilities and Choices
  • FIP – First Important Priorities
  • C&S – Consequence and Sequel
  • PMI – Plus, Minus and Interesting

It is advisable to practice thinking tools in formal sittings before applying these to your day to day life. Practicing thinking tools is simple. You select a topic and use one or more tools to explore the topic. Initially it is advisable to use a paper and pencil to write down your topic and the output of each tool usage. Practice can be done individually or in a group. Experience tells that practice in a group is more enjoyable and fun when all participants share the output of thinking tools. Group practice should not consist of more than 6 people. Each practice session should last for a minimum of 20 up to maximum 50 minutes.

Timing is an important aspect of using a thinking tool. You allow yourself 1-3 minutes of thinking time for each tool usage. You should also monitor your time with a watch. This strict time discipline is an important part of thinking tools practice.

Practice will develop confidence and make thinking an enjoyable process. You will be able to use tools in daily life without much effort.


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